Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Dillinger Escape Plan, Vans Warped Tour- 7.31.10 First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

They smell like death
So hold your breath
It's time to get down
You can spot them from a distance
Cause they're not from your town
-Death Angel-Road Mutants 1988

The first thing I noticed as I approached the stage was the smell.  There’s nothing quite like the smell of a touring band, make that the smell of an underground touring band.  Especially in the summer.  It was overwhelming and almost seemed to suck the oxygen out of the entire stage front/photo pit area.  No small feat as this was an outdoor show, but it was unmistakable and this is one of the things rock and roll is all about.  Bands sweat when they play; most wear the same stage clothes night after night (or day) out of pure necessity.  These clothes, once past the point of no return as far as scents go, are usually items that can stand on their own after the show and most should also be burnt.  I’m not saying this in any derogatory way; after all, I know what it’s like to fucking stink on the road.  It’s part of the experience. 
I’ve seen The Dillinger Escape Plan before.  I’m not ashamed to say this, but they scared the shit out of me.  It was 2005 and they’d already been in and around for several years but I didn’t care for them.  More on that later, but in 2005 I caught their set on the inaugural Gigantour and I knew nothing of them other than their name.  When they started to play, it was like all hell had truly broken loose. 

Now I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of gigs, from clubs to arenas and I’ve seen a lot of action at shows.  We’ve all seen insane shit.  We’ve seen “walls of death,” “old-school circle pits,” “kung-fu shit,” just brutal participation that seems to get crazier and crazier as the years pass.  However I’ve never seen a band do that kind of stuff on stage. 

Sure back in the day there were bands that were extremely entertaining on stage, be it the Anthrax of old, D.R.I., Vio-Lence, M.O.D., Cro-Mags not to mention the mid 90’s Hardcore stuff like Integrity, Snapcase, Madball so on and so forth, they all delivered the goods while keeping in constant motion.  This was an important part of the concert experience for me and one that may or may not be the norm these days.  So my first experience with Dillinger was that of shock and awe.  Standing in the photo pit, I could’ve sworn the band was not only trying to kill the audience, but themselves as well. I had never seen such reckless abandon at a show especially on stage, it was insane and the uncomfortable feeling I left with was probably Dillinger’s goal. 

So back to the present, last Saturday was the day the Vans Warped Tour was hitting the Chicago area and Dillinger were a part of the traveling circus and I couldn’t wait to see them again.  It had been a lot of years and my whole opinion of the band changed with the release of their latest album, ‘Option Paralysis.’  After listening to the new album for months and months I wanted to experience them live again and days later I’m still thankful I did. 

Little has changed with DEP in the multiple years since I saw them last.  They were just as intense and destructive as the last time; in fact they were probably crazier.  Musically I don’t know how they do it but it almost seems as if their sets are musical exorcisms. Where it’s as if the members, Guitarists Ben Weinman and Jeff Tuttle in particular, trade every ounce of energy for the heart felt satisfaction of giving 100% on stage.  If that doesn’t make sense, simply You Tube some of their stuff and see for yourself. 

On stage they were a unit, a supercharged dissonant wrecking machine and for 40 minutes they kicked all sorts of ass.  Vocalist Greg Puciato just blew me away and his command of the stage and crowd seemed as natural as anything I could think of.  Set-wise they covered a good amount of ground, from old (“43% Burnt”) to recent (“Lurch,” “Milk Lizard”) to current (“Chinese Whispers,” “Good Neighbor”) including set closer “Farewell, Mona Lisa” which is, so far my song of 2010.

To say this was a memorable set is like saying game seven of a World Series is just a game.  I took Max with me to see Dillinger and while he knew very little of their music, I knew he’d be just as entertained by watching the show.  This was his first festival experience and even though we didn’t stay long, it was very cool to have my son with me seeing a band such as this.  Many, many thanks to Brian Umlaut and his man Kurt Soto for gracious help and a set we will never forget.